To Live and Love - A Journey of Surrender Through Joy and Pain

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Does life ever seem to just slow down, for a second, like you are watching life happen in slow motion? For me this happens from time to time and the sound is internal. The noises become like white noise or even quite in my mind and my eyes see different. Today I see people at Whole Foods hustling. They are eating and packing their groceries and texting. Some people are smiling while others look tired and others heavy with grief.

Where are they going? What are they cooking for dinner? What are they thinking about? When is the last time they were held or heard the words “I love you?” How are they feeling with the dynamics of the world lately? Are they hurting with the loss of the fires? Have they lost a good friend or lover recently? Have they found joy in something special?

I think these questions and more. Are these people that are going about life connected or numb? Or perhaps a little of both? Do they know their purpose? Do they even contemplate this question? Are they running on fumes or rested?

The answers to these questions and more are unknown to me yet available to each person.. All I know is what I can see, feel, hear, taste and touch.

Today I sense that life is delicate and bold and beautiful. When these moments happen it is hard for me to fully articulate what this feels like. The closest thing I can compare it to is looking at a meteor shower. Have you ever watched a lot of shooting stars in a dark night? As you are outside the rest of the life simple stops and you can so clearly feel and know that there is something out there that is bigger than you. Something so grand and complex that everything works together. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change. The birds chirp as the sun rises. The list goes on and on. Nature is perfect and somehow this life things works, despite my ability to sometimes comprehend how.

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So today, I sit with headphones in, I pause in this moment. I am in awe of simply being a human. I am in awe of experiencing all of life: the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the worry and the love. All of it. It is intense and amazing and hard all at the same time.

Can you relate? Are you someone that feels intensely or worries? For those of you that know me, I am a worrier and a feeler. I can feel all of the feelings so strong that sometimes it overwhelms me and I cannot breathe deep or understand the depth of life. And in these moments I allow myself to take it in and pause. And then get back to being grounded and find room and moments to breathe and be grateful. The other thing I will honest with is my fear of loss. My worry has been very intense since I was young. I feel like since I have been young, I have been waiting for the call that something bad has happened. In fact, even today, my dad called me and the slightest pause in the “Hello Kitten” made my heart drop. My heart was pounding in my chest and I thought/felt “what is wrong? What happened?” Oh, dear. That isn’t fun or necessary, but sometimes is my reality.

I mean, that doesn’t seem productive or even normal. As I’ve been working with my therapist on this, I have trained my mind to think the chance of something bad to happen to be heavily skewed to a higher percentage of it to happen.

Why I am sharing this with you? Well, for starters, I want to be clear that this thought pattern of being on high alert has not been valuable to my mental or physical health. It can through my rhythm in a moments notice.

However, it is my reality. It is my work in progress. It is the story behind me trying my best in life. It is the story behind my smile and showing up in life. It is my battle of letting go fully and surrendering enough to say, “I am living; I am loving.”

But then again, what does it mean to live? Does it mean going through the motions and hustle? Or does it does it mean to connect? Does it mean to be at ease in the good times and soft and open to healing and hurt in the not so pretty times?

Honestly, I truly am thinking a lot about life. I am clear if one thing, that when I am connected to source, and I take time to pause, and breathe I have a better life. I am kinder to those I love. I am kinder to myself, I have more patience, resilience, joy, and faith. And so I strive to do more of this in the form of gratitude, meditation, and honoring life by taking care of myself.

What I am not so clear on is this whole loss thing. The pain of life is so intense. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of our dear friend Erik who left us on August 7, 2018. Why Erik? Why did a man that had such a positive impact and love have to leave us so soon? Will any of this every make any sense at all? What about his beautiful wife and three kiddos? Why them? And then how do we surrender to bad shit like this happening?

Honestly, I don’t understand nor do I pretend to know if I will ever comprehend. But what I know is that to honor Erik and all those that have passed or are living and experienced grief, I will do my best to honor the life I do have. And I will take it a day at a time. I know it is cheesy and hard all at the same time.

I want to prevent the hurt and pain. For me, for James, for my kids and my mom and dad and sisters and brothers. I want to avoid pain at all costs. I want to never have to get that call again and I want the pain in the world to go away. But what if my job isn’t to do everything I can to avoid that? What if my job, rather, is to surrender to it all. What if my job is to trust that no matter the crappy things that happen, there will also be joy and peace within. To know and own in my journey that there will be light and joy along the way.

Maybe the point is to give so much thanks to our blessings that we spread even more? What if we do even more good? And instead of waste precious moments worrying about would or could happen should there be tragedy, what it we simply surrender to the blessings now? And then know that this is a choice to surrender each and every day. It isn’t something you buy at Target or Amazon, rather, it is a choice that we make each and every day and moments through the day. I think I can even get on board with that (and am trying, I promise).

And it also isn’t saying that to surrender doesn’t mean to show up for you and those around you. For example, do you care about animal rights? Go after it. Channel it and do good things. Do you worry about guns in schools and pretty much everywhere these days? Try your best to surrender and be at ease and then channel your frustration to volunteer or raise money to change laws.

That is the balance. That is the gift we get to choose. And then we take a deep breath again and again to connect, to believe in something and to keep showing up.

What do you choose? How do you show up for you and life? How do you surrender and let go, yet fight for something you believe in. How do you hold those close to you but not grip and worry so much that aren’t able to live or feel the feelings of love and joy?

That is my deep question for you as we enter this holiday week. There isn’t an answer that is right or wrong. The quote in the bathroom today at mXe said “Be Where You Are.”

My wish for you is to do just that. Be right where you are. Be aware and kind. Contemplate the gift of life and how it can be beautiful and divine and so many things. And honor all of your feelings today. And know that you are loved and not alone.

Peace, love, and healing to all of you beautiful humans.

Kristin

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Be Where You Are

You DESERVE to feel better!

As women, we all want to FEEL good, and deserve to feel good. 

I frequent various locker rooms at gyms or lobbies of yoga studios and I often here things such as, "I need a shift." Or "I need a reset." Women will say something like, "I feel off or not like myself anymore." I can hear the simplest desires to "just lose a few pounds" Or "I just told my husband I need to eat healthier." What is this all about? You could say this is something coming from a sense of how we "should look" but I'm convinced these comments are all at the core of the same problem: we ALL want to FEEL GOOD. And when we are out of balance, including not eating the right foods, sleeping, drinking too much or exercising too much or the wrong balance for us, we don't feel well. This shows up for us often in weight, energy, hormones, exhaustion and more. 

However, at the core of it all we know we can be shinier and the best version of ourselves and thus we talk about it with our friends. So many of us want to change or want to feel better, but why are so many of us struggling? I believe it is at the heart of why I practice and teach yoga. I believe that once we get out of balance or deal with a life transition, what worked before might not be working again and might not be the best. We ALL need a little support and guidance and that is where I would LOVE to come in and support you. 

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My Personal Experience - Why I want and know I can feel better

My story has many layers, many experiences of ups and downs. I will attempt to keep it short and sweet. As a kid, I struggled with various health issues such as yeast infections as early as two-years old and eczema by fifth grade and psoriasis by middle school. I was a bigger kid and developed early. I was one of the biggest girls in sixth grade and felt very different. However, once I started to hear about the "fat-free" approach of dieting I was sold. In eighth grade I started being more active physically and controlling my total intake of fat. Looking back I know this was definitely the start of my disordered-eating patterns. It didn't take long and I lost 20+ pounds, ending middle school a bit more active.

Fast forward to high school, I had a great time being involved with volleyball, track, choir and church groups. It was an amazing time, but I continued to struggle a bit with yeast infections and on and off body-image issues. Following high school I was off to college and my active participation in volleyball and track and school helped me stay busy and connected.

I always operated under the truth that if I didn't work out I wasn't okay. Thus, that was a huge focus of my days. I would wake up early and sacrifice sleep just so that I would get my workouts in. I also was mindful of my choices of eating because I knew it all mattered. And luckily, at this time in my life, making healthier choices actually meant feeling better. The pressure I put on myself got to be a too much by the end of my senior year and the food issues came up pretty strong. My dear friend brought it up to me, suggesting that I get help. 

I am thankful for that day; after graduating college I went to the Eating Disorder Institute. I gained knew knowledge of food and how it can be balanced and free when you make your own rules. You can have dessert and be okay. You can eat various foods, including fat, and be okay! 

One incredible discovery on this journey was taking two months off from working out. My eyeballs fell out of my head when my nutritionist encouraged this experiment. I thought "f that" when she first brought it up. However, the trust I had with her was enough to give it a try. It helped that I was swamped with my student teaching, leaving me with less time to workout. What happened was crazy; I actually was stable and even lost a couple pounds. I am sure I lost a bit of muscle, but the most amazing part of it all was my physical activity changed dramatically and I ate the SAME amount of food that I was when I was swimming for 75-minutes or running 9 miles. It was fascinating. Obviously, if I continued this over time, the amount of food I would require to maintain my weight could decrease. But, it was PROOF to me that taking a day or two or even a week off when sick/tired is necessary. The bonus: I was still OKAY at the end of those days. Laura, if you are out there reading this, thank you for the gift you gave me that still lives in me. 

Life was fairly stable in my young 20's after this treatment. I still battled with my psoriasis and reminders some days that eating was okay and taking days off was okay. But in the grand scheme of things, life was good. I was in a successful job, falling more and more in love with my now husband of twelve years and living a very simple and blessed life. 

Motherhood was the next chapter in my life. I had my first baby seven and a half years ago and my second baby four years ago. Lucky for my babies I gave them lots of love and attention, not letting them cry much, rocking them a ton and nursing a lot. My poor sweet girl (7.5) was a very fussy and challenging baby. Not lucky for me, sleep was a memory. When I went back to work it got even worse.

About a year after having my first baby the digestive issues started. Over the past seven years I have been battling my gut health. I am pretty sure the trigger for the turnaround of my micro-biome (gut health) was the intense prescription I took for my mastitis. Unfortunately I had it pretty bad and I didn't see any alternative. It only took a couple months for me to notice something wasn't right with my stomach. I have had countless appointments with doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturist, more doctors, etc. I then got Giardia when my son was a year old. After taking the anti-parasitic my eating disorder flared up, partly because I had lost so much weight I was afraid to eat. And partly because I think my gut was destroyed by the anti-parasitic. My post-partum depression/anxiety kicked up in a big way during this time as well. I was actually doing fairly good prior so I often wonder if the gut change had a huge impact on my mind. The symptoms showed up for me in my eating disorder. I was also trying to follow a very restricted diet to heal my gut and food sensitivities. 

I rose above from that tough time through the support of my friends and family and amazing professionals. However, I continue to struggle with knowing what foods make me feel good. This stress is real. To the point where, this summer I took the plunge and tested for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). The results came back with a positive result for both methane and hydrogen. Apparently I have a pretty bad case of it.  I am on day 25 of my healing protocol and this morning I told my daughter, "I want to give up." My daughter exclaimed, "mom, why would you want to do that?" I think it is mainly because I still don't feel awesome. The biggest challenge is the continued bloating and the crazy cravings for food. 

You know those moments when people say they try something and the first couple weeks are hard, but the they felt amazing!?? Well, that is where it stops for me. When will I feel amazing? What am I missing? I think for me it is patience but there is much more and darn it, I know I can get to the other side. I just know. 

So what do I do now? Knowing what I know, my micro-biome is not working yet. We are trying to get it back to where it needs and when it isn't there, I am not able to "listen to my body." I must trust the process. I must start to get MORE REST. I must start to follow the yoga practice that will begin to nourish me. I must drink more water. And I have to simplify and say no to a lot. I am depleted and not only is my gut health challenged, my hormones have been off because of all it. The first priority is the healing of the SIBO, but at the same time I can work on my mental health to get strong and get through this hard part of my life. I know I will not give up and will keep going. It is critical to my health and getting to the other side of actually feeling good. 

I will see my healing as a journey of honoring exactly where I am at, asking for the support I need, and doing everything I can to get myself in balance. I know my days might look a little different some of the time, but small changes might make all the difference.

I am not alone in my challenge of NOT feeling good, and that is where YOU come in

First of all, YOU matter. Your journey matters. Your feelings, experiences, desires, and truth ALL matter. You are doing an awesome job each day showing up as best as you can. But, I know something more. I know that you DESERVE to feel better. I know that for me, I cannot do this healing journey and simply living & loving alone. I know my journey of challenge is here to get stronger, but more important to be a charge of change for women. 

I know that YOU can feel better. I know that incorporating small changes can make a BIG difference. It ALL matters and I want to support YOU. 

I also know that I am not alone and cannot do this alone. And I know that my journey of challenge is here to share and support other women to be heard, helped and eventually to thrive. It is my heart's desire to help women feel better! Sometimes it feels overwhelming, and I totally get that. But taking action with little changes and helping get YOU in balance is the KEY to feeling better. 

Be Curious - ALL things matter. 

I know that it is ALL the things that matter. It isn't a simple equation, but it ALL Matters matters.

  • What we eat
  • How we breathe
  • How we rest
  • What exercise we do (right now)
  • What products we use on our body and in our home to clean?
  • How we deal with a headache or a sore throat (advil or something more natural)?
  • How often do we look at our phone?
  • What do you do for your mental mind to quiet intellect and increase inner guide?
  • What are we doing to stay in balance?
  • Do you have a strong practice of gratitude?
  • Are you able and safe to speak your truth?
  • Are you connected and supported?
  • Are you allowed to feel and go through the process of letting go, feeling, and being heard?
  • Do you have the right professional support? I am talking any care that will help you in balance...hormones, physical body, etc. 

I truly believe it is impossible to move forward if we are not supported as a WHOLE person. From my own perspective, I am tired of staying quiet until I shout to the world, "I am healed!" This is not reality and honestly, we are every changing human beings. 

Thus, I believe in all of my heart that you CAN feel better if you get curious. I also believe that if it is critical for us all to understand that what worked for us ten years ago might NOT be what we NEED right now. We are every changing and we must understand that we will feel the best when we are in balance. 

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you beat yourself up when you skip a workout?
  • Do you feel challenged to actually "listen to your body?" 
  • Do you feel overwhelmed or lost as to getting on your path?  
  • Do you feel like everyone else has it figured out but you?
  • Do you find your internal dialogue is mostly critical and dismissive?
  • Are you feeling stuck?
  • Do you want peace and harmony between you and you?
  • Do you avoid going to a yoga class because you are a beginner?
  • Do you doubt your inner guide and ability to trust your instincts?
  • Do you need clarity in your life?
  • Do you want to feel better?
  • Do you need a little support to help you build inner-confidence and self love?
  • Do you have a gratitude practice?
  • Do you know how to shift your energy when you are feeling stuck.

If any of these are YES, I have something for you!

Private Wellness Sessions

I offer private wellness sessions that help you to tap into what you need to get back in balance and start listening to what you need. My approach is simple, I help you bring in a sense of curiosity and love as you look at small changes you can make to your life to feel better. I will help you create a personal "practice" for you that helps you make shifts to FEELING better. It IS possible and you do NOT have to do it alone. (Note: often times the "practice" for you doesn't even include any yoga poses. It truly is up to YOU and what works best for you. I call this "living your yoga.")

Thus, my approach to your own well-being and feeling amazing comes from within. No Rules for you or anyone! There is not one way to feel good and there is not one way to live and thrive. However, there are many choices that add up that will serve YOU the best. And my friends, this isn't the same formula for you as it is for me. The BEST thing that I can do to support you is to uncover that badass within that knows you can do anything when you are in balance and alignment. When you connect to this knowledge you have the power to create the life you want. The attitude you start each day with and the ability to show up for you in little and big ways adds up. 

Additionally, I offer workshops that go deeper into tapping into the self-love that is already there, connecting to your inner guide and "knowing" and cleaning up your life to help you have the best shot at thriving.

Finally, I know that my own healing journey has taken various professionals to help support me depending on my challenge (whether it be hormones, eating-disorder issues, and gut-health). I LOVE to provide you with amazing resources that will help support YOU on your journey. You are worth it and I am here for YOU!!

Does this resonate with you? If it does I would LOVE to work with you.

If you are curious let's talk. I offer a free 15-minute consult to see if what I have to offer is something that would work well for you. I can do it either virtually or in person, depending on your schedule, location and availability. Schedule it now by emailing me at noruleswellness@gmail.com or go to the contact me page. 

You DESERVE to feel better and you do NOT need to do it alone. 

In so much love and gratitude,

Kristin

Back-to-School 2017: Embrace Your Feelings; Honor The Now

As I sit here in the quiet of the house, my son is napping and my daughter is at her first-day of second grade. Why is my heart so heavy with mixed emotions? I don't think my lady hormones are helping me much, but my heart truly feels so full of emotions. For me, I am always planning or thinking about what next that I often miss out on the now. This summer I decided to abort a lot of planning. My lists were very few and usually lasted about five minutes before I lost them or they got shoved in my back pocket or sribbled on. This was the summer of FUN and just allowing. 

I had a lot of adult celebrations with amazing wedding celebrations, 15-year college reunion and more. But in the midst of the crazy we squeezed in summer fun. I am talking small things like walks to the library (for the record we only went twice), quick neighborhood swims before teaching yoga or just being together while little brother was napping. It was something I will not ever forget. I can see her smile and hear your sarcastic jokes at lunch while the construction is so loud my annoyance level was up...saying "wow, this lunch is SOOOO relaxing!" Oh man, her light and sense of humor kept me going. Don't get me wrong there were many moments of crazy and me ignoring them or sibling fighting. However, when I reflect of course I sift through all of that. Similar to child birth and our distorted memory of it all. :) 

This summer I knew that I was behind on everything. in fact, early July my website went down because of technical issue that for most is a five-minute fix. After trying to consequctive mornings with the help desk I decided to abort and just enjoy the various "fun" we had on the schedule. If I felt called to write I would, but it didn't matter because what was in front of me mattered more. I did find time for me in small and big ways this summer and for that I am grateful. But some of my favorite memories involved my sweet second grader, just the two of us. Like the below picture where we came up with a no-bake cookie recipe for our kid's cookbook we are working on (slowly of course).

summer kitchen creations!

summer kitchen creations!

So today I just sit. I sit with my emotions as mama. As a torn mama, a woman that is on the fence about what my role should be as mom and professional. A journey I am developing as I sit. I am not sure what the future holds, how the days will flow, or how it will all work. However, I know what is the MOST important to me right now? Me. My self love. Time for me to feel how I feel and process all of the feels. What is most important is NOT knowing but allowing me to not know. What is is most important is my big learning about what self love is. I realize that none of it matters, not work, not alone time with the kids or family time or date time or a successful career or organized house or a website that is up and running if I don't love myself first. If I don't have faith in life first. If I don't let go of ALL of those things I cannot control, included in that today are my feelings and my lack of clearly knowing much of anything but that my heart is FULL. I am not perfect and have a long way to go as I show up in this life as a human.

Summer sunset fun!

Summer sunset fun!

Even though I know I am not perfect, I know that my little ones (second grader and preschool boy) won't wait for me to figure it out. They are watching me NOW. They are watching if I am complaining or being positive. They are watching me turn a crappy day around and bring back the joy that we all so deserve in all the days. They are watching me be kind to the slowest cashier in the history of Target. Why? Because I am their role model. Isn't that how it works? And yes, I know I have not been perfect (oh are there stories), but I know that because of the abundant amount of life lessons these little humans have taught me, I CAN and WILL and MUST keep going. I must show up and love myself enough to pause and feel and know that deep breaths, relaxed shoulders and looking these little ones in the eyes is a lot of what my job is. 

I will hug them and make lunches for them and yes, I will make them put their stuff away. I sometimes wonder how that will happen, but I will NOT give up on any of it. I will raise kind and responsible and loving humans because they are already so far ahead of what I could have imagined such small people could be. Through the honor of being mom it has become very clear to me that a lot is so innate. We are good. We are Love. And all of that light and potential lives in us the moment we take our first breath. Yes, I am a role model and a guide, but that personality is not taught and that light is what makes the world go round. So today I simply say, thank you for letting me be your mama. And thank you yoga and family and sometimes wine at 3 p.m. to help remind me to let myself feel so the days you come home sad or scared or mad I don't make you push it away and I sit with you and "let you feel!" 

Whatever your emotions are...allow the feels. Allow yourself to not know, but at the same time know that you are okay right now. Look around. Take a breath. Go to bed early. Take a bath. And just be okay with right now. No matter your feel, you let it roll off you like "water off a ducks back." Life is a little bit easier when we allow ourselves to flow with feelings and flow with life. 

Sending all you mamas and dads and caretakers LOVE and more LOVE on this day of transition (or coming transition). I couldn't quite get out of bed snuggling my son at nap today because I know some day he won't want snuggles from me so then I just stayed a little longer today. Why? Why not.

Namaste and love to y'all!

Kristin 

Opening up: Self-Love Poem and Birthday Reflections

Another trip around the sun does this to me each year; I have a longing to reflect and think about where I have been and where I want to go. With so much emotionally happening in the world around us it is clear that life truly is a gift. It is something that Doug Melroe has been shouting into a microphone as I dance around the studio at The Firm (my first experiences was at 22; I am due to dance around soon)! Fourteen plus years later those words are louder than ever in my head and heart. (note: I worked at the Firm from 2003 until recently and this message is loud and clear in my bones, and a big reason is because of those Saturday morning classes and the passion that Doug fills that space with). 

Ironically, I just completed a yoga training with Rod Stryker (in March) on the lotus of the heart and we left with three very important contemplations that have continued to resonate in my heart and soul: 

Life is a Gift
Life is Beautiful
I am part of the Divine

And no matter where you stand on the above words/contemplation, my take-away guided by Yogarupa: my life is better when I think this way. Why wouldn't I want to accept in all of me those words if it makes everything better? When I live my life living by these three phrases, my thoughts, speech and actions embrace the now and are significantly less about my accomplishments or my next anything. We live in a world of constant distractions of a million topics and items. Just the smart phone alone interrupts our life and mind in a way that 20 years ago we couldn't even imagine. In fact, I recall being on a train during my study-abroad trip in Australia in 2001 and I saw a teenager on her cell phone (and many more). It felt so odd for her to be talking on a phone on a train while life was happening. I remember thinking: "what is so important that she has to talk on the phone on the train now?" 

Fast forward to 2017 and the smart phone is so important that even teachers, in most schools, have zero control over whether a student is on his/her phone. How is that even possible? How can we expect the future of America to learn when their brain is interrupted so many times? I have seen this first-hand as I have had the opportunity to teach yoga at a local high school. Of course this got me fired up and I started having conversations with fellow school teachers. I quickly learned this particular school is NOT an anomaly, rather phones and students is the norm and a big problem.

My point in this all: if ever there was ever a time when it is vital that we find a way to remove ourselves from these many distractions and find our inner peace, now would be that time. For many of us what is happening in the world has disturbed us on a level that is incomprehensible. One that recently hits home to me is the loss of an amazing man and former trainer at the Firm. Since the tragic shooting in Miami that killed Mario Hortis (click here for obituary). It makes me sick that stories like this are in and out of the news so fast it is barely noticed. How can this be? I still remember exactly where I was when the Colombine High School shootings happened in 1999. It was a BIG deal and it should be. How are things like public shootings of ANY KIND acceptable??? When did this happen? Everytown for Gun Safety is something that I follow and support (here is more about Everytown and some data on school shootings)

And to not go off too much on any sort of a rant I will say that of course most of us know that this is not right but I still question how is this the norm? Obviously getting to the bottom of gun violence or any other political issues is not the intention or place of my writing. However, it is impossible not to feel the heartache and wonder, "what can I do?" I know that is what I ask myself. Again, since we are not talking actions that impact anything politically, what I will talk about today is ourselves. We are in charge of taking care of ourselves first! Getting to the bottom of any political issue is for another day and venue. However, what I can offer and what I do know is that peace and love live in our hearts always. Thus, there is no better time than right now to find moments in our lives to access that peace in our heart. From what I have experienced, it is that place in our hearts that is unchanging and that isn't seeking happiness but able to find peace and love right now. It sheds light on yourself as a 'seeer" and gives you a sense of perspective, faith that definitely won't come from watching too much news or grabbing your smart phone yet another time (myself included). Recently my teacher Rod Stryker wrote this on Facebook, "My teachers taught me that yoga was about peace; yoga was about transformation; yoga was about transforming oneself and one’s world..." I know that I can show up on my path and my yoga to transform me and the way I see the world and change starts within. 

Me feeling the "selfie Love" :) 

For me transforming me and the way I see the world is a huge part of what yoga has taught me. I was recently reminded of this when I read my notes from that weekend. After the last meditation on the heart I opened my eyes and started writing (as I typically like to reflect at these workshops). What happened was a beautiful poem that illustrated the power of what lies within: a true self-love and peace that isn't something you can buy in a store or on the phone, rather it is already there. 

As you know, I have battled a bit of self-love that has shown up in an eating disorder on and off in my life since I was in middle school. Most recently I am struggling with trying to heal my hormones, and in particular manage my gut health, psoriasis, and weight in unwanted places. Is it that big of a deal? Not always, but sometimes I feel like I am trying so hard to heal and feel better, fit into clothes, not yell at my kiddos, etc, and it isn't enough. I feel like I am for sure failing and I want to say, "f@$# it!" and give up. But that is NOT an option. Each time I am in that place, those closest to me remind me to keep going or my practice or even the memory of my practice remains in me. And I know, the answer is..NO WAY; I cannot give up.

So in closing I want to share with you this deep place of self-love that simply showed up to me after a meditation in practice. I share this with you, at this significant time around my birthday, to honor these words that are so true. I share this with you because thinking of what I want in the next year to come is to LIVE these words. To actually feel this self love that is at my core always. I don't want to feel like I have to try so hard but to simply stand tall in my being. No matter where I am on my journey or if things are going exactly as I would like them (or not), I WILL STAND TALL! Because again, life is a gift, life is beautiful and I am part of the divine. 

Poem: Self-Love, the true self love that is already there

Ah...my imperfections are to be loved as much as my ability to love is...

To Love it ALL brings peace

To Love it all brings immediate forgiveness to being human

To love it all brings a sense of "I am doing my best." 

To love it all means loving me now...

...not the self-love that I've been trying to achieve/feel, but the self love, the love of the divine, that is already there. 

~Kristin Gourde, 3.19.2017

After that day of meditation, something was different in me. My meditation reflection in addition to this poem writes, "meditation felt like me...like less of trying to feel something and more of a being." I also remember a sort of pulsing of my heart. It is something I have never experienced, but I know tapping into my heart is where I want to keep going to remember how that felt. 

And after that day, even on the bad days, my heart feels lighter with this sense of knowing. And my confidence, faith, and knowing is growing. My ability to adapt is too. I am grateful for that day and grateful for the opportunity to share. 

Your action? Love YOU! Honor YOU, even if you don't feel it or believe it, that sense of knowing that your self-love and simply 'being you' always lives within. You are loved.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to all of my teachers. And thank you for showing up for you in this crazy and beautiful life!

Namaste, Gratitude, and Love beautiful people,

Kristin

Raw Motherhood Lessons—love you today...FREAL!

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Two weeks ago my husband was sick and a lot was just on me. I also had PMS and little sleep. Thus, I wrote the below blog post in the midst of it all. I never got around to posting it, well, because I was doing my best. This past week I am having a flashback to these moments because my son had my husband's illness (I think of version of the influenza) and it has been rough. He also added in the barfs with it intermittently so that has been a not-so-fun curveball! Poor dude. I thought it would resonate with somebody, even just one person, so I decided to share from two weeks ago my Raw Motherhood Lessons.

I know for me there are many moments on this parenting journey that I could be REAL hard on myself, but I know that doing will only harm myself and others. I must surrender those not-so-pretty moments and dig deep. I must accept that I am doing my best, I am enough and I am deserving of loving me today.

I hope the below story inspires you to remember: you are doing your BEST, you are ENOUGH, and you are worthy of LOVE! 

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Sunday, Feb. 12 at 11 p.m. and Monday afternoon, Feb. 13, 2017

I sit on the couch right now (my bed for the third night now) in tears. My hubby is sick and it's been a long weekend. I have felt behind on EVERYTHING. I tried to catch up and take care of my two little people and my hubby: making juice, doing laundry, roasting veggies, shopping, mopping, taking kids to swimming, valentine's boxes, and more. All with an attempt at loving. But during all of that the reality was that I never felt like I was enough: I felt behind, crabby, irritable, selfish, unloving, frustrated and angry. 

I SO want to be adaptable. I SO want to be able to skip sleep and self care and be enough for my family. I SO want to give them the love they give me but I snap, or yell and they quickly remind me, "mom, you are in the amygdala!" For those of you that understand this part of the brain, it is the part of your brain that manages your fight or flight. It is the part in your brain that tells sends the blood to your arms and legs to get you ready to run from the tiger, fast and NOW! Here is a website that I found explains it pretty well: The Amygdala & Emotions. Thanks to SuperStretch and my amazing yogini friend (the creator of SuperStretch) I teach my kids that when we are yelling the amygdala is in control. It might go something like this: "Sweet child, we aren't thinking straight. We must breathe to think through this situation!" Of course those words come out with an intense restraint of yelling (but sometimes raising my voice—eek)! Most often two or three breaths by all parties and the challenge subsides. And that is that. Those are the glorious and amazing parenting moments. The intensity of life happens, we acknowledge and use our tools, and move through it. Obviously that doesn't always happen, but is my ideal. :) When it doesn't happen I do re-do's (just did one this morning) and will share what that means in a blog post soon. It is quite amazing actually.

This weekend was a different story. I felt like I was clenching my body and especially face and throat. I felt so frustrated because I just got off caffeine in an attempt to switch my diet, sleep, and exercise to create a new internal rhythm. I want to feel better and snap a hell of a lot less at my people. It hurts my heart so bad to know that I get so mad and am resisting so much. I honestly feel like sometimes I cannot control it. Other moms (and dads) out there: you know that out-of-body feeling where you know you are being unreasonable but you cannot stop yourself? Please say some of you are nodding with me?? 

Recently I got my copy of the Adrenal and Thyroid Revolution by Dr. Aviva Romm. After reading this book everything seemed clear. As I was a couple chapters in I thought, "Awe shit, there is nothing wrong with me, my hormones are just f'd!" So the intense food cravings and the yelling at the loved ones and flying off the handle is explained. As I continued to read the book I felt my shoulders drop and thought, "So there is a chance I can feel better than this?" 

After drinking 3-5 shots of espressos per day in the past couple weeks (that is the equivalent of 2 or 2'ish cups of coffee) I weaned in a week, and was ready to rock it! I bought some of the hormone-balancing foods and was doing a lot of the flow ("ideal day") of the reset: more sleep, winding down, breathing, yoga, and slow-carb eating (all explained in her book). The bottom line: I haven't nailed it yet, and know that I am obviously free to do anything I want (no rules right)? But at the deep of my heart I want to follow this protocol for 28 days because days like these HURT. They hurt so bad. I pause and I think, what do my kids think and feel in their heart? The one person that is supposed to always be there (MOM) is mad a lot! Do they think it is them? I pray on this one: God no, don't think it is you my sweet ones. Mommy just doesn't feel good and I'm sorry. I will do better tomorrow. I promise. I'm sorry. I love you. 

And so I say forget the list. It is there and it will stay there. What is on the list: sympathy cards that got melted in the snow unbeknownst to me and I have to resend or how about the Christmas present (yes I said Christmas present) for for my hubbies side of the family. It's just sitting there and OMG it's Valentine's Day Tuesday. How does that happen? I have to order brochures for essential oils class that is coming up and supplies for it. How about the invitations for the classes and the b-day invitations, not to mention the Golden b-day presents to go with it. Oh, and how do we make Valentine's day special but do everything we can to not get sick?? I should go sanitize right now right? But in the end, none of it matters. Truly. It. Doesn't. Matter!!! It doesn't matter when I am doing the best I can right? It doesn't matter when I am barely getting basic needs met right? And finally, none of life matters when my attitude is focused on the list or the things NOT going well. That is when the spiral happens and the opposite is true. When we focus on LOVE and when we focus on what IS going right and what we are grateful for, magic happens. I find connection with my kiddos and efficient-chore doing and a letting go of how fast the stuff gets done. 

It will all work out and my heart says breathe. My heart says, go to bed sweet mama. Don't worry. Try again tomorrow and with the power you have use what you know to kick ass tomorrow: gratitude, meditation, the power of intention, laughter, movement, sleep, breath and LOVING ME FIRST!  That means saying nice things to me regardless of my challenges or opportunities. We are all imperfect and to grow stronger and brighter it only serves us to focus on Love. Trust me I know the end result of not giving that to me because I felt that today. 

So I say goodnight Minneapolis. Good night sick husband. Good night angel babies. And good night world. As my daughter wrote in a card to her daddy, "sick man," get better because you are missed and damn you do a lot for our family. And good night sweet little ones. I hope tonight you saw that mama was tired and hormonal and just needs space sometimes to be the best me. I hope you alway remember that no matter what, LOVE wins and it starts with YOU!! Be proud, forgive, love hard and laugh harder! 

What are you saying to you today and in your head? Why are making the choices you make? You deserve to love you ALL the time: thoughts, speech and action. Start today with me won't you? 

Oh, wait you thought I was done. I wrote this last night and started today great. I did my morning prayer and breath and movement. It totaled ten minutes but I was ready, right? And then I couldn't win against the clock this morning and the mess seemed to multiply. I stopped breathing and damn, I was SO. HARD. ON. MYSELF. You can ask my husband. I was a MESS. After the late drop off for the oldest kiddo I went on a walk around the lake and the first half felt heavy. I was feeling sorry for myself and that inner voice was, let's just say, not kind. And then I thought, why am I doing this. "What you resist, persists!" And I kept playing this wisdom reminded to me by my amazing coach Laura Burkey. Oh no...I was doing it again. I was creating a reality that was filled with suffering, anger and a lot of time not breathing. This was felt in my heart and in my little ones. This isn't working. And each step around the lake allowed me to breathe in fresh air. I was able to connect and "chat" with my son. We played the game, "What do you LOVE?" in honor of Valentine's week (also taught to me by Laura Burkey). It was fun and at the end of it I felt uplifted and inspired to show up for me. After the game and stopping my crazy spinning mind, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and choose be nice to me today. Let GO sister! Today is going to be as good as you make it. 

My sweet little man resting

So I challenge you one more time....can you be NICE to you? Can you talk to yourself like you would a good friend? And if that is hard to do that (which it was for me), can you somehow move your body? Can you hide from the family or kids and then make a list or say it aloud of "what you love?" and why? It helps. I promise. And maybe in that little journey of writing or saying it aloud you realize you are truly badass. You have done a lot and you keep showing up. Love isn't about being perfect my friends. Love is getting back up again and trying again. It is reflecting on where you are challenged and looking at that dark inside of you and shining your bright and amazing light at it. You are worth it! I love you and darn it...you should love you!!! And I will do the same....that I can promise. Thank you to those closest to me that remind me of this, I am grateful for you! And thank you for each and everyone of you that continue to teach me on my path!!

Thanks for reading, loving, and living. It truly is what makes the world go round. 

In love, light and gratitude, 

Kristin

A view from my first run last week. The lake is melting and this week has taught me to keep letting go!

A view from my first run last week. The lake is melting and this week has taught me to keep letting go!

P.S. Thanks little bean for this message on Saturday. You were right when you said "Mom, sometimes you
are so overwhelming!" That's right sweetie. I am. And I overwhelm myself. Thanks for the reminder kid. You are a light that shines so bright in our lives! 

P.P.S. I realize It has been QUIET on the blog and website, but again, I have not abandoned anything, I am trying to be strategic and rest when I can. More to come on that later. XOXO

Monday Check-in: Breathing - Nov. 7, 2016

How am I? 

I am in a rut and I am better than I've ever been! Why? Because despite having a tough week and not feeling the best, I know I have support, tools such as yoga, meditation, gratitude and more to get back up. I consider last week's challenging moments a paper cut. Why was this last week harder than some? I had some tougher moments emotionally this week but it wasn't a whole day; each time it was just a moment. What a gift. Also, based on how I feel, I am reminded that what I'm doing right now for self-care is not the right balance. I am not sleeping enough or eating the right foods or doing a consistent and solid yoga practice. And I know that needs to change. However, I also know that the hardest part is starting. I'm learning a lot right now in my yoga training (online Vinyasa Krama training with Rod Stryker). And in that training he talks about the Law of Continuity. It essentially means like attracts like and thus, we tend to keep doing what keeps us out of balance because it feels good. Sometimes doing the same thing, even if it makes us feel crappy, makes us feel better than making a change. Wow, can I resonate with that because that is exactly where I am. I know what I need to do, but there is a lot of resistance to doing it. I think we all can relate to this in some way. Think of the months where you have a consistent workout schedule. Then life happens and you get out of your rhythm and getting back to the schedule that made you feel good is so much harder.

Below I have quickly broke down a bit of what my rut seems to consist and what I know I need more of. Also, you can read about how last week's Queen Allowina did. And don't forget to think about you. Maybe reading this will get you thinking about what is going on with you because I know reflection can always help me have better weeks, days or moments. 

My rut: 

  • Not sleeping enough 
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Being hard in myself, and I mean really hard 
  • My mind is spinning and I am not stopping it (oh I want to write a whole post on this one)
  • Perhaps trying to do too much at once? But I feel the fire, so I will just keep it going with grace and a planner/spreadsheet. 
  • Not as patience or as kind as I know i can be, especially to kiddos 
  • More anger 
  • Food stuff crept in a bit, but knowing my triggers it is again, just a moment and I can move forward and grow!

What do I need? 

  • More sleep
  • More meditation that allows some a.m. practices on the days I am not teaching early
  • More water. I was with my daughter on Thursday and Friday and she drank a lot of water. I thought I would give it a try and I feel a ton better. More days like that!
  • More being and less thinking. That's right. More BEing! One of my amazing teachers would always remind us that we are "human beings, not human doings!" Dang, I need someone to say that to me every day!
  • Continue to give myself grace at the rate I am building my business. It takes time to create something great right?

How did allowing go? 
Last week my theme of the week was to be Queen Allowina! I wanted to embrace the mess of life and allow various feelings, the mess of the house, and simply not being perfect into my week. So how did it go? 

Queen Allowina's reflection of last week:

I was so surprised (and not surprised) that I resisted the heck out of allowing. It was the most painful attempt at trying to be laid back. In all honestly, it showed up the most in my parenting. For some reason the kids were a handful last week and into the weekend. For a good part of the week I thought their behavior and the parenting frustrations were me not being patient until I saw the kids get the best of my husband (he rarely gets frustrated with the kids). Phew, it wasn't just me. As the week progressed I found myself resisting allowing the mess and allowing the crazy morning routines and being behind on what feels like everything. For most of the week I was sure as a mom I have no clue what I am doing; but don't we all have parenting moments when we wonder what the...? 

Last week I found myself having an angry and impatient tone of voice with the kids, and even raising my voice when I they would continue to not listen! The positive: I realize it is important to not allow unkind behavior, but at the same point I realize I must only allow the lessons to come from the place of love. So Sunday, on the way to swimming lessons with both kids, we went over our four rules:

1. Listen to mom and dad the first time
2. Kindness (kind words and actions such as hitting, biting etc.)
3. No name calling (believe it or not I am the worst at this). For example I joke around that I am "mean mommy." After the intense parenting morning (for both my hubby and I) we were going over the rules in the car and my three-year old son says to me "mean mommy is name calling!" Hot damn he was so right. How did I miss that one?
4. No back talk

A big thanks to my friend for helping me create these rules because when I think I might lose it as a mom and feel so lost and unsure of what next I go back to these. And it helps me to realize that these aren't Kid's Rules, but Family Rules. I must be kind in my guiding and parenting, even if they are acting like a-holes.  

As far as allowing others to feel, well I realize this will be an ongoing opportunity because I quickly take on the feelings of others and have it negatively impact my moments. But I know I am solely in charge of my own emotions and others have the right to feel. Thus, Queen Allowina will continue. 

Finally, I allowed my Thursday post to just get posted when I finally can edit and add pictures. It was done on Wednesday and that my friends, is the kind of week I had as far as all-hands-on-dec with the kiddos. Oh well, it is just a blog post. I allow right?. :) :) 

What next?

I am going to keep it simple this week. I am going to commit to my daily practice, water, sleep and grace when it comes to the to-do’s, both work and home. The list is long and the passion is deep, but I am only one person and my best this week will be enough. I realized in being more aware last week that my anger is stemmed by never feeling like I can get enough done or be enough for people or sleep the right amount, etc. etc.

What I know I can control and do Now is breathe. I often joke around that I am the yoga teacher that doesn't breathe. Unfortunately, it isn't a joke. I don't breathe very well most of the days (again, another opportunity for more writing on this gem). This week my focus to support me is "I will breathe!" I will breathe in and out as calmly and deeply as I can. I know how I feel after a yoga practice with intentional breathing. Why don’t I do this in my everyday life? Last week taking a drop essential oil (I have been loving the Gratitude oil) and cupping my hands to smell and breathe helped calm my body and drop into the present moment. The breath is our foundation for life and greatly connected to the quality of the mind. Why not start today? 

What are your plans for this week?

As always, take a moment to think about last week. What felt good and what would you like more of? Is there something you are doing a lot of that is actually keeping you out of balance? Do you need an extra yoga class or some extra sleep? How can you stay grounded and calm in the week we are approaching with Tuesday’s election and I could imagine a busy life and mind? Schedule something in for you if you can. And lastly, are you breathing? Breathe with my please. And tell me how it's going; I would love to hear!

Life is such a gift and feel so very grateful to have the time to reflect, share and grow.

Thank you so much for reading and more importantly, thank you so much for being YOU! Have a beautiful week. 

Peace and love to y'all!

Kristin

The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings.
— TKV Desikachar

Perfectly Imperfect

Today It is late and I am trying to actually get to sleep so I have decided to share a little of the messy parts of parenting for me before I head to bed. This is unedited and simply from my heart. I want to start by saying that I love my kids oh so much; you know that deep love in your soul love. However, being a mama in a lot of ways doesn’t come easy to me. I get caught up in the emotions of the kids and the resistance and it gets the best of me. I hate to admit it but I sometimes yell, I try not to but my swearing comes out and I even ignore them (gasp)!

The last two days I have been in full-on mommy duty. I did teach a class this morning at 6 a.m. and then my hubby let me go for a run around the lake. Check out some of this picture. This was a run that although I was physically spent, I knew my soul needed to move. I always feel connected when I get outside and move my body; I am reminded of the gift of life and it helps me to do my very best.

That is what happened for me today. My head was spinning on my run because the day prior was a mess. It had some very amazing, even bliss-filled moments with the kiddos during the day. In those moments I was fully present and I felt so blessed. I could see the twinkle in the their eyes as we went to the local pumpkin patch (aka-the local garden store that has loads of pumpkins and a sign that says “pumpkin patch). Thank you Sunnyside Gardens for saving my Wednesday. My kids were pumped and I was present. My phone was only out for the fifty pictures I snapped because it was one of those moments I could feel in my bones that I didn’t want to forget. And as I am starting to figure out as a mom, the farther you are way from the messy parts, the more amazing those moments start to take over your entire memory. I sure as heck hope that my kiddos feel the same. I hope that when they think about their childhood they remember the love. They remember the moments of fun that we created in our family. And they remember the hugs and kisses and most importantly the times I said I was sorry. Those moments are hard for me as a mama because I know I wasn’t perfect. I know I let them down. But I also know that telling them I am sorry for my words that may have hurt them is the best that I can do. And I believe, deep in my heart, that they need to know that I am not perfect and I never will be. I am perfectly imperfect. And so are you and the rest of us.

This morning in class I was sharing parenting stories and talked about how it can hurt so bad as a mom when what you say to your kid takes their energy from that bright and big vibe of happiness and kid curiosity to small. Please tell me you know what I mean. For example, if I say something like, “name-of-kid.” In a disappointing tone, they look at me with sad eyes and immediately their energy shrinks. For my little boy he starts to cry because he knows I am mad and can feel my disappointment. Or how about, “what were you thinking?” What? I know it sounds like I am awful, but sometimes these words slip out. And I know exactly what those words make a little kiddo feel: shame. And that is the LAST thing I intend to make my kids feel. So then as a mama I feel small. But then I dust myself off, and I keep going because they need me to. They need me to keep trying and to love them still and to do a little better next time. And sometimes, getting mad is the only way to get them to get my attention (and I am working on this mentality too), but tonight I was calm with no emotion for most of the night with the exception of a couple minor moments. And for me and for us, that is a miracle. The love outweighed the mess. And that my friends is my goal.

I will leave you with a little excerpt from a moment on Wednesday where I thought I was going to lose it on my kids. Instead of scream or have an adult tantrum I ran to my computer and wrote. Another time I ran to the porch and started to do deep belly breathing. I suppose this is a good example for them to see me channel my frustration in a positive way right?

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

I am ignoring my three-year old crying for a quick moment and I wonder why the heck I cannot be more patient. I decided to skip my planned at-home workout today so that we could get a quick store run in and have some outdoor fun. And now it is 10:30 which leaves two hours and a lot of mama anger. Why can't I ever feel like i have it together? Seriously. I try so hard. I stay up late and make lists and write plans and decide to be kind. And for the beginning of the morning it was fun; everyone was playing nice to each other and we were getting a few extra things done. And then the morning poops and the spilled water and the mess from playing. And the laundry that I am trying to stay on top of so the busy weekend plans can fall into place. And what about quality time with my oldest kiddo because I  know we don't get it much. We plan to do a spa day, but must do it right at the beginning of nap because then we are running to dance. And I wonder if I am the crazy mom that is making her do dance when I peak in her room and I find her doing ballet in her room (ribbon around her leg) with a huge smile. Okay, so the running around is worth it.

And then coming back to the present moment I realize I am making my kiddos feel bad that the time is the time and we just cannot do it all in four hours. And that isn't right. So I type. I choose to type instead of keep sputtering words out of my mouth that are annoying me and likely unintentionally hurting them. I read a post from someone yesterday talking about how much it hurts when our children grow up because we miss when they are little. But why was it so hard during that time of not being able to reason? Why did we wish to lock ourselves in the bathroom because it just seemed too much? Is it because the phase is actually hard or is it because expectations in just one simple day tend to be too high. For me today I want to get chores done, do fall fun, pack for the weekend, buy some stuff at the store that we need and some Halloween things, and have one-on-one time and more! Oh, did I mention my yoga and meditation? And the prep for the barre class or the writing that I want to finish up? How about the packing list for the coming trip? And how many hours in the day do I think that I have?

Typing this I realize that maybe my kids aren't messed up or annoying and that my expectations are just too much for one person/day. So I guess it is time to get the teapot off the stove and adapt. I must adapt, look into their eyes and make them feel love and safe. Isn't that my job after all? Do I really need to have it all together? I guess if we walk to the local garden store instead of find a pumpkin patch it will be okay and f I don't get to the store until tonight and we have PB sandwiches for dinner, it will be alright too. So, I breathe in love and exhale all the shit that just happened in the last 15 minutes. All is well and I am grateful for all of my blessings. 

Parenting is a gift and can be so hard all at the same time. So we must continue to keep ourselves in check and adjust adjust adjust. That my friend is the best I can do. And when I tell myself I suck, well then I actually do.

Here's to finding the beauty in the mess of parenting (and maybe a little bit of fun). 

All my love to you in your parenting adventures, or life adventures. How are you perfectly imperfect? I am sure you have your own story and are doing your best. In class today I asked the question, "what are you awesome at?"  I will leave you with that question because I am sure you are a rockstar in the mess of it all.

Shine on!

In love, light, and gratitude,

Kristin

Be just how you are

"I want you to be just how you are." Responds my husband when asked by me, "do you ever wish I would drink beer with you?" As he cracked open a beer on a Saturday night. My jaw dropped. What? How can you be so loving and kind? Did I really marry you? Speechless, I left for my slowest run in years. Okay, I may have snuck in a few words before I finally dragged my butt outside, but I finally left to move my stuck energy. It was 4 p.m. and I had the "gremmies" and we all knew it (note, in our house "gremmies" is short for gremlins and it means we feel stuck and cranky and need to move our energy to feel better). My husband and six-year-old daughter were thinking...'send mama for a run!' 

You are perfect just as you are

You are perfect just as you are

I started walking, and then started to jog—one foot in front of the other. I stopped and started and stopped again. Down a hill I went and then I didn't stop. I kept going. This was hard. Should I be doing this? Am I pushing myself? When I push myself like this is it only harming my attempt to heal my hormones? And oh, my thighs are rubbing together and let's not mention the fire in my chest (BAD heartburn) and the fire in my bottom (aka my "v"). Okay, yes it is too much information for some, but this time it cannot be left out. I was uncomfortable and I mean SO uncomfortable. My physical body was screaming at me on this run in many ways. 

What happened next is a reflection to me of my journey. I am growing and healing and sometimes I don't even know it. Instead of focus on the thighs or the discomfort of my body and why it's unfair that I have heartburn and an on-fire "v," I instead shifted. I heard the wisdom again of my dear husband. He said to me, "Go out and truly enjoy our neighborhood!"

Ah, such good advice. So I start to look around. I felt the cool fall breeze on my body and it felt so good. I felt my feet hit the pavement each step. It wasn't easy but I was doing it. Wow, I thought to myself, ‘I am lucky that my body is able to do so much.’ And then the lake, it was so beautiful with a blue haze over the lake and big waves. The goodness of life and people were everywhere this late Saturday afternoon.

On my jog there were people biking, running, walking with friends and pushing their babies in strollers. I found their eyes as I passed by and I looked in their eyes for a brief moment and felt their stories. They too, are on this planet for the same reason as I am. We all want to avoid pain and feel pleasure. We all want and need to be loved. I felt so grateful at that moment and each subsequent step. No matter the discomfort or scary moments or joy or bliss, we are meant to be present. In this brief and powerful moment (like many are when I run) I realized how infrequent I truly am in the present moment. And I long for more moments of dropping into to the present moment, so that I can feel the breeze on my face or smell the sweetness of my kiddos or truly see the love in my husband's eyes. On this challenging yet glorious day, I was reminded that it is these moments and the little things that truly matter. And all of these little moments add up to your days, weeks and months. 

Let's go back to what my husband said to me. I want you to be just how you are. Read that again but read it like someone you love is saying it to you with all his/her heart. I want you to be just how you are. How does that feel when you read it and feel it? What is going on in your mind and heart? Maybe read it again or maybe just feel and truly think about those words. 

What if exactly how we are, our struggles and ailments and all the challenges that come our way, are here to shape us? What if they are here to help us to rise above? What if they are here to help us to make a lot of little and big choices to do something great and to thrive? And I mean really feel every moment and LOVE ALL OF WHAT YOU ARE. Maybe you have a lot of fire like me and you fly off the handle. Maybe you swear too much or work too much or pick fights with those that love you. Or maybe you procrastinate or are always late or watch too much television or...or...or. God knows we all are imperfect. But maybe we are perfectly imperfect like the quote says. 

I am perfectly imperfect
— Anonymous

And my friends, as I write this I cannot help but think about how I have been fighting "me" since middle school. This resistance and challenge of wanting to be just how I am isn't something that has come naturally to me. I think back to those intense younger years and I used to think things like, 'why am I the bigger kid? Why am I the most inflexible girl in my class? Why do I have boobs and hips and none of the other girls do? Why did I seem like ten years older when it came to responsibility? Why did I feel like I was okay at everything but not really good at anything? Why did I want to look different?' And on and on? What went on in my head as a young girl was intense (and I am sure I am not alone in this regard). I was sure something was wrong with me. If only I lost weight or told less jokes or, or, or. 

Fast-forward twenty plus years and I am starting to get it all. It is starting to come together as I reflect, pause and be curious. Maybe it is time for me to stop resisting and share the feelings that my husband said to me so effortlessly Saturday night. So today I say to myself, "I want you to be just how you are." Perhaps you could say the same thing to yourself, if even just for a day or even a weekend. Stop resisting and honor you, exactly how you are

In love, light and gratitude,

Kristin